Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution – Concord

Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution [TrackList follows] – Concord CRE-38265-02, 45:29 (3/04/16) ****:

Enter stage right: Esperanza’s artistic evolution!

While jazz is predominantly the style you’ll hear emit from her work, Esperanza Spalding transcends the genre on her new full-length album, Emily’s D+Evolution, which shows many alternative and rock-influenced styles, with a passionate theatrical element to the sound. Spalding worked closely with producer Tony Visconti, David Bowie’s primary producer, on several tracks on the album – which could have helped give her this edge. Lyrically, the album pays tribute to her journey by telling the story of Emily, which is Esperanza’s middle name, but also the spirit-muse whose story unfolds throughout this incredibly complex album.

At first listen, I initially was unsure of allowing the music to guide my ear on the journey – as it was difficult to define what I was hearing! What pulled me in was giving my attention to the vocals, which have a beautiful unfettered quality displaying her intuitive confidence in every track. Emily sings from the heart. Whether singing as more of a melodic accompaniment, or stealing the stage with her a cappella speak-acting – you can tell that there is not one regretful note. And it’s appropriate to use the words stage and acting in the same sentence, as the album sonically unfolds as a theatrical production, alluding that her live performance will literally display an authentic musically crafted screen-play, with acting! I guess we’ll have to see for ourselves!

Tracklist: Good Lava; Unconditional Love; Judas; Earth to Heaven; One; Rest in Pleasure; Ebony and Ivy; Noble Nobles; Farewell Dolly; Elevate or Operate; Funk the Fear; I Want it Now

—Darrow Andelin

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